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Manuel Antonio National Park

Today the National Geographic Sea Lion headed to the Manuel Antonio National Park, one of the smallest national parks of Costa Rica, nevertheless one of the jewels of the protected rainforest of this beautiful country. We were delighted watching the sunrise while the surf gently welcomed us to the anchorage point where we began our adventure to the national park, which is the second most visited in the country. Read More>

Mar 20, 2015 National Geographic Sea Lion in Costa Rica & Panama

Caletas Private Reserve & Corcovado National Park, Osa Peninsula VIDEO

Since last night’s presentation about today’s activities, our expectations for visiting the Osa Peninsula were very high. The idea of being in one of the wildest places of Costa Rica was on our minds all night long. Finally this morning, after a wonderful breakfast on National Geographic Sea Lion, we disembarked into adventure…  Many of us decided to enjoy this wild region on horses. Read More>

Mar 19, 2015 National Geographic Sea Lion in Costa Rica & Panama

Golfito & Casa Orquideas

And again as if it was magic, we woke up not only at a new location but also in a different country. Early morning and before breakfast we had the opportunity to visit a botanical garden named Casa Orquideas, deep inside the peaceful waters of the Dulce Bay in southwest Costa Rica. Only accessible by water, surrounded by primary forest, Casa Orquideas is indeed an incredible place to visit. It’s truly a showcase of the luxuriance of the tropics. The owners Ron and Trudy McAllister, two American expatriates, have tenderly gathered an incredible collection of trees, palms, flowers and spices over the last 35 years living at this remote location. On top of this, the property is regularly visited by many of the creatures that reside in the adjacent forest to take advantage of the many tropical fruits that the McAllisters grow here for display. Orquideas is an array of shapes, patterns, colors, sounds, smells and tastes that are a feast for your senses. And in order to make the most of it, all was meticulously prearranged. Our crew and staff worked hard, by sailing all night long, and making the mandatory immigration paperwork stop at Golfito Port, Costa Rica, while the rest of us were sleeping.  Thanks to this, our photographers were able to reach this incredible location at the ideal time of the day when the activity of the wildlife is at its highest and the light is the best, the so-called “golden hour. Read More>

Mar 18, 2015 National Geographic Sea Lion in Costa Rica & Panama

Coiba National Park; Granito de Oro & Coiba Island

Our last day in Panama couldn’t have started in a better way. The visit to Granito de Oro was one of the most anticipated stops in our expedition. Beautiful white sand beach, pristine warm waters and a nice breeze invited all of us to spend a wonderful morning there.  Once at the island, we all had the opportunity to enjoy the snorkel and kayaking activities. Read More>

Mar 17, 2015 National Geographic Sea Lion in Costa Rica & Panama

Bona and Iguana Island

A clear sky after sunrise, coupled with light winds, translated into wonderful conditions for an early morning expedition landing craft cruise to explore the island of Bona.  Travelers who wanted early light for photography started at 6:45 a.m., and others who wanted a more “civilized” departure explored the island just after 8:00 a.m.  The expedition landing craft allowed us close access to the abundant wildlife, which included frigate birds, brown pelicans, blue-footed boobies and brown boobies.  Those birds were seen nested on steep rock formations, diving for fish or playing in midair.  Upon returning from Bona, the certified photography instructors and our National Geographic Photo Expert held breakout sessions in the lounge. Read More>

Mar 16, 2015 National Geographic Sea Lion in Costa Rica & Panama

Barro Colorado Island & Panama Canal

This morning, we awoke in the calm waters of Gatun Lake, where we spent the first night of our journey through the Panama Canal. Most ships transit the canal in a matter of hours, while we were fortunate to have had the opportunity to stay the night and spend the first part of today exploring Barro Colorado Island, known as the Canal Zone Biological Area. This former hilltop became an island when the Panama Canal was being built, and Gatun Lake was created by flooding the nearby Chagres River.  It was officially declared a Nature Monument in 1923, and since then has been a place of research and preservation managed by the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute.  To explore the island, we divided into 3 main groups; those that wanted to do a long hike (2. Read More>

Mar 15, 2015 National Geographic Sea Lion in Costa Rica & Panama

Barro Colorado Island & Gatun Locks

The sound of the rising anchor was heard very early in the morning. The night before, we had done our partial northbound transit through the Panama Canal. Our first pilot had stayed with us until we dropped anchor very close to Gatun Locks. Now, a new pilot had come on board to take us to our morning destination, Barro Colorado Island. It was close to dawn when it we began to be revealed to our eyes, part of the 54 km2 of Barro Colorado Nature Monument. Read More>

Mar 13, 2015 National Geographic Sea Lion in Costa Rica & Panama

Bona Island & Taboga Island and the Panama Canal

In 1513 the famous Spaniard Vasco Nunez de Balboa decided to explore, with 400 men, the dense jungle. He had been told about an indigenous village where the natives would dress in gold, and that their houses were decorated with pearls. After walking for more than 20 days, he reached to the Pacific coast of Panama.  He named the sea the “South Sea” and sailed through it, discovering several islands inhabited by natives dressed in gold. Similar as the Spaniards, National Geographic Sea Lion decided to explore the Island of Bona and Otoque. Read More>

Mar 12, 2015 National Geographic Sea Lion in Costa Rica & Panama

Granito De Oro Island, Coiba National Park, Panama

This morning the first thing that came to our minds was our expedition leader Christian’s last words the night before: “Tomorrow morning we will be in my country, Panama!” Many of us woke up early to see this new country waiting for us and found a spectacular sunrise with the Panamanian mountains on the horizon.     A head of us we could start to see islands covered with lush vegetation. Read More>

Mar 11, 2015 National Geographic Sea Lion in Costa Rica & Panama

Golfo Dulce; Casa Orquideas & Tigre River VIDEO

March is the highest blossom peak in Costa Rica, and of course there isn’t a better place to visit than Casa Orquideas Botanical Garden. It was as if orchids, heliconias, gingers, bromeliads and many more plants were competing in a beauty pageant. Every single trail was covered in colors and the birds and butterflies were having a parade on this little piece of paradise. After a lovely morning, the calm waters of the “Golfo Dulce” invited all of us to take a refreshing swim before getting back onboard National Geographic Sea Lion.  After a delicious lunch and a little time to rest, we all got the preparation announcement for our afternoon activities. Read More>

Mar 10, 2015 National Geographic Sea Lion in Costa Rica & Panama

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